Other common names: Samphire, rock samphire, rock fennel, sea asparagus, crest marine
Botanical name: Crithmum maritimum
Botanical family: Apiaceae
Method of extraction: Steam distillation
Plant part used to extract the oil: Flowering tops
Cultivation method: organic cultivation
Area of origin: Greece - Chalkidiki
Sea fennel is native to Mediterranean and western coasts of Europe including Greece, the Canary Islands, on the southern and western coasts of Britain and Ireland, North Africa and the Black Sea
Sea fennel might not be unique to Greece but it is firmly rooted in its history. It flourishes on rocky, salt-sprayed cliffs above the high tide line and has been collected for its culinary and medicinal value since antiquity. Greek physician, Hippocrates of Kos (c. 460 – c. 370 BC), known as the "Father of Medicine", recommended sea fennel for its diuretic and detoxifying abilities. Pedanius Dioscorides (Greek military physician, c 40 - 90 AD), the father of pharmacology, and Pliny the Elder (23 – 79AD), renowned Greek botanist, both wrote about its beneficial properties too.
Not surprisingly, sea fennel can also be found in Greek mythology. It is said that Prometheus brought fire to earth hidden in the stems of the sea fennel. Some versions of the lore also say that the very same plant was used by the ‘good country wife’ Hecate to prepare a meal for Theseus before his fight against the Bull of Marathon, Minotaur. Theseus was successful, he did slay the bull and we might be excused for thinking that it was due to the nourishment of this meal. Sea fennel is indeed highly regarded today for its nutritional values.
Even the scientific name – crithmum - is derived from Greek ‘krithe’ for ‘barley’ because the ribbed seeds are thought to resemble that grain.
Biochemical group: Monoterpene
Main chemical compounds: γ-terpinene, sabinene, β-phellandrene, limonene, paracymene, cis-β-ocimene, thymol methyl ether, apiole, Terpinen-4-ol, α-pinene, others
Aroma strength: medium
Perfumery note: middle
Aroma: initially earthy aroma soon gives way to fresher, greener notes with a hint of lemony grassiness, cooler and lighter as the dry out progresses
Traditional aromatherapy uses:
Traditionally in aromatherapy treatments sea fennel is associated with the following therapeutic properties: antibacterial, antioxidant, expectorant, carminative, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, lymphotonic
Qualified aromatherapists may use sea fennel essential oil for common complaints such as:
skin conditions: skin renewal and as anti-aging, antioxidant agent in creams and facial massage, hyperpigmentation (brown spots), to improve skin tone. Essential oil and other types of sea fennel extracts are at the moment very popular in anti-ageing and anti-cellulite cosmetic preparations
lymphatic system: Sea fennel is used in French aromatherapy as an energizing oil, specifically for supporting healthy fluid circulation and reducing cellulite and water retention
digestive issues: flatulence, stimulation of bile production
endocrine system: believed to potentially be useful as a regulator of the thyroid activity
For a face cream - add together with our Helichrysum and/or Organic lavender essential oil to an unscented face cream
For a cellulite massage oil – we dilute our Sea fennel with some Lemon essential oil I a fixed oil (carrier oil) and massage the affected areas (please remember that Lemon essential oil is phototoxic!)
To support digestion or ease flatulence – dilute together with a drop of peppermint oil in a fixed oil (carrier oil) and massage the lower abdomen or specific muscle areas.
There is very little information currently available regarding the safety of this oil and it has not been included in ‘Essential Oils Safety’ by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, 2e, 2013. Bearing in mind that some chemical compounds present in this oil can oxidise easily and some can be irritating to the sensitive skin we recommend the following:
Avoid in pregnancy or breast feeding.
Not to be used on children under 7.
Do not use on people who have a past history of seizures (convulsions)